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First, welcome to EnergyPlus. I'm glad you started with the tutorials, and your goal seems interesting and very much doable with EnergyPlus. You can definitely create IDFs and run them from the command line, or you can use a variety of tools to generate/modify the IDFs and run the files from a GUI.

As for a Python-based EMS, there isn't anything right now, but we (the core EnergyPlus development team) are currently developing a Python-EMS implementation in EnergyPlus. It will be completed in a future release, as it is still early in the design phase. I would suggest continuing with raw ERL if you are already getting comfortable with it, though I know some interfaces have also adopted at least minimal EMS functionality right into the interface.

Good luck